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Charlie Wilson's War


Stars: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams

Director: Mike Nichols

UK audiences may feel a little uneasy in the company of this jingoistic and talky story of the American congressman (Hanks) who, previously known only for his entourage of nubile female assistants and a fondnesss for scotch, raised the money from his government to help Afghan freedom fighters expel their Soviet invaders in the late 1980s.

Both Hanks, big and booming, and Hoffman, as a CIA rough diamond, make the most of the more waspish lines in Aaron Sorkin's script, and the whole thing is rather better, if not by an awful lot, than Lions for Lambs, with which it shares an Afghan connection and a 'talking heads' feel.

Director Nichols dresses it up with some Jacuzzi nudity at the start, and some combat action towards the end, but the story, such as it is, struggles to engage the attention, and would perhaps be more effective as a TV documentary. Roberts is in it, too, although not particularly tellingly, as the fixer with religious connections who draws Charlie into the whole affair, while Adams does what she can with the role of Hanks' aide. The unexpectedly brief running time is a bonus.

David Quinlan

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by deluxe.
102 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 07 Jan 2008